Aubrey de Grey, PhD, is Chairman and Chief Science Officer of the Methuselah Foundation. The core of his research is the identification of all forms of cellular and molecular damage whose accumulation contributes to human aging, and the design of interventions to remove, repair, replace, or render harmless all such damage so as to arrest or even reverse the biological aging process. He has published extensively on these and other areas of gerontology in the scientific literature, and is also Editor-in-Chief of the high-impact journal Rejuvenation Research, the only peer-reviewed academic journal focusing on intervention in aging.
Question: Why is it taking us so long to respond to climate change?
Aubrey de Grey: I have, perhaps, a somewhat more charitable view of that failure than many people do. So let’s take climate change. It’s obviously . . . the obvious example. We’re not very good at going out together to do something about climate change. Why not? Well, a couple of reasons. I think one of the reasons is we trust technology to save us at the last moment. And, you know, that’s a dangerous trust; but it’s not surprising because technology quite often does actually provide solutions to problems. So, you know, I wish we didn’t rely on technology; but it’s understandable. The second one, perhaps … a lot more profound, is fatalism. I think that a large part of why people are not going about trying to do something about climate change is because they don’t think they can. And I don’t just mean individuals here. I mean whole societies. Why don’t they think they can? Well actually, I have a feeling that aging is part of that problem. It may be the … of that problem. Aging, after all, is a constant, daily reminder of our inability to manipulate our world as we might like. There are so many things that we can do with our world; but ultimately, when it comes to the really critical things – saving our own lives – we can’t do it. We’re helpless. And this grinds us down.
Recorded on: 6/22/07